Streetwear and illustration go together naturally, it doesn’t even really need explaining. When you look at the work of Gerone Perez, the connection between the two is obvious. He’s not the only one doing it, but he’s definitely doing it right. Labels provide crucial texture for his work. “I try to put everything and anything onto my characters and hope it works,” he says. “Most of the time the words and logos are just about creating aesthetics and layers.”
When you talk about Manila streetwear, many local brands come to mind. But there are only a select few that sit confidently on top of that list. THE is one, if not the one. They helped pioneer the rise of streetwear culture in the Metro and are one of the reasons why many young people started their own T-shirt brands. And this week they’re celebrating their 10 year anniversary.
Last weekend the cul de sac of Cubao Expo was once again filled with creatives from all walks of life, this time to celebrate the fifth anniversary of The Twelfth House’s storefront opening. People filled the shop and overflowed out its door into the cool night air. The label dropped a series of 12 collaborations with other brands and DJs handled the decks all night, juggling styles from reggae to rap to chill electronic beats. “It was a culmination of eight years for the brand and five years for the store. Years’ worth of work, friendship, and growth for me and the brand,” says owner and founder Mikki Dela Rea. “I wanted to give back to the community that helped me grow as a person, found a family within, and built a business with that keeps me fed.”
RJ Wolfgang is a one-man-band. Photography, design, layouts, casting, location scouting—he handles it all, combining these mixed media compositions into mini-photo zines that could be considered art projects in themselves. His most recent work has been a tech-heavy style, leaning on futuristic imagery, high-density locations, and Japanese lettering. While it may appeal mostly to fans of techwear, it’s hard not to appreciate the level of work and attention to detail that goes into each series.
Support Your Friends. It’s simultaneously a brand name and statement. They’re known for a few things, but their logo caught nationwide attention when Grab snatched it without permission. The ridesharing company was using it to advertise their merger with Uber last year. And while the move went viral, with fans stepping up to defend SYF, they’ve never told their story publicly.
If you want to turn people’s heads, combining art, sneaker culture, and basketball is a great place to start. Throw in some PBA stars and make it all benefit a good cause and it’s a wrap. At Secret Fresh today you can catch the resulting mix in all its glory, organized by local stalwart Quiccs (who’s also releasing a new merch drop and sneaker sculpture) and star baller Gabe Norwood. “I’m just a little overwhelmed, to be honest,” says Norwood of the night’s turn out. “We just wanted to build the bridge between art and basketball and give back in the process.”
“Ego death,” says Kyle, one of the founders of Nobody Clothing, when asked to describe the ethos behind their streetwear brand. It’s a company that’s about being bigger than oneself. About escaping self-aggrandizement.
Born in Quezon City’s Cubao Expo, the group would hang out, sitting around on the compound’s curbs until midnight, scheming and designing. They wear the local badge proudly, making Cubao’s zip code a prominent element across their apparel.
Any kind of drop relating to toys or cartoons begs for nostalgia, and the video lookbook for DBTK‘s new collab with Sanrio is dripping with a yearning for the days of childhood. Directed by Chino Villagracia from The Visual Club, the video is shot in 16mm style, with a rainbow of bleeding pastel colors. Grainy textures and flickering effects drive the feel of times gone past, which is furthered by the old furniture, courtesy of someone’s grandparents. “We shot it at our production designer’s grandfather’s old house,” laughs Villagracia. “I based the whole thing off childhood memories, like watching Sanrio on my grandmother’s old TV and playing the video games on our family computer.” (The Visual Club did the magazine lookbook, too.)
Local independent streetwear vendors converged on Cubao Expo this past weekend for THE Block Party. The rain was torrential earlier in the day, but by nightfall, it had lightened to a cool drizzle. And the leftover chilly air and wet streets deterred no one; this was hoodie weather after all. Expo is the very location where many of these young artists found their creative roots, and it was all organized by none other than THE, the brand regularly cited as pioneering this thriving Metro Manila subculture.
Thank You is a brand that sprouted from the concept of gratitude, and everything they do revolves around showing love and giving back to the people that surround them. They create streetwear and lifestyle clothing as part of their umbrella store, called the Thank You Gift Shop. Located in Malolos, Bulacan, the store showcases multiple brands and artists, selling stuff that ranges from coats to cookies. The products hail mostly from their hometown in Malolos, Bulacan, a province in the north of the Philippines, but they also feature artists from cities across the Philippines like Cebu and Cavite.
But no one is more important than their immediate family, and the brand revolves heavily around their daughter. It’s run by the married couple Alden and Mira Mallo, and they named their primary icon (a silhouette of a young girl bowing, as if politely saying “thank you”) Bliss after their child: “Gusto namin alam ng anak namin na family oriented yung brand namin, and ma-feel niya na para sakanya talaga to.” (“We want our daughter to know that our brand is family oriented, and we want her to feel that’s this concept is really dedicated to her.”)